We don't need Vice President Cheney travelling to Georgia on Tuesday stirring up trouble there against the Russians.
Cheney's idea of American power is exclusively one of military power. He would like to attack Iran and also maybe North Korea. He was the architect of using methods of torture to interrogate Islamic prisoners of war held at Bagram and Guantanamo. He approved every use of waterboarding.
And what is the result? The world loathes Americans and their pretentious portrayal of themselves as defending liberty and justice for all. Cheney has made the world so much more dangerous, so much more liable to acts of terrorism, with so much more hate and racial and ethnic distrust.
Yet Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes in today's The New York Times a story on Cheney that attempts to make him less of a monster, more mellow, more introspective.
"Mr. Cheney declined to be interviewed. But those close to him say he approaches retirement with neither reticence nor eagerness, but rather with a Zen-like confidence that even his most controversial moves, like his stance in favor of domestic wiretapping, have been necessary to keep the country safe.
"“It’s not suffering defeats, it’s not nostalgia, it’s not urgency to get stuff done, it’s not, ‘I can’t wait to get out of here,’ ” said Mary Matalin, a longtime adviser, describing Mr. Cheney’s state of mind. “I hate to use yoga terms, but he’s really in the moment.”"
Hasn't Stolberg read Jane Mayer's The Dark Side? How can we talk about Cheney without talking about torture, waterboarding, rendition, secret prisons, disregard for human rights, desire to attack Iran, predilection for military confrontations, the shredding of the U.S. Constitution in favor of executive power?
Sunday, August 31, 2008
We don't need Vice President Cheney travelling to Georgia on Tuesday stirring up trouble there against the Russians.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Eric Lichtblau has an important article in today's The New York Times on the machinations of the Bush administration aimed at codifying that the U.S. remains "at war" with Al Qaeda.
"Seven years after the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Bush’s advisers assert that many Americans may have forgotten that. So they want Congress to say so and “acknowledge again and explicitly that this nation remains engaged in an armed conflict with Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated organizations, who have already proclaimed themselves at war with us and who are dedicated to the slaughter of Americans.”
"The language, part of a proposal for hearing legal appeals from detainees at the United States naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, goes beyond political symbolism. Echoing a measure that Congress passed just days after the Sept. 11 attacks, it carries significant legal and public policy implications for Mr. Bush, and potentially his successor, to claim the imprimatur of Congress to use the tools of war, including detention, interrogation and surveillance, against the enemy, legal and political analysts say."
This proposal smacks of Cheney and his diabolical assistant David Addington. By having congress go along and reaffirm that the U.S. is "at war," Cheney and Addington hope to put up an extra buffer between themselves and those who feel they must be held accountable for the introduction of "harsh interrogation methods," read "torture."
"Mr. Mukasey laid out the administration’s thinking in a July 21 speech to a conservative Washington policy institute in response to yet another rebuke on presidential powers by the Supreme Court: its ruling that prisoners at Guantánamo Bay , were entitled to habeas corpus rights to contest their detentions in court.
"The administration wants Congress to set out a narrow framework for those prisoner appeals. But the administration’s six-point proposal goes further. It includes not only the broad proclamation of a continued “armed conflict with Al Qaeda,” but also the desire for Congress to “reaffirm that for the duration of the conflict the United States may detain as enemy combatants those who have engaged in hostilities or purposefully supported Al Qaeda, the Taliban and associated organizations.” "
Congress must not go along with this. The Bush regime of using waterboarding, harsh methods of interrogation, sleep deprivation, long hours of forced standing, psychological punishments - these must not be allowed to become institutionalized because the U.S. is "at war." Cheney, Addington, Rice, Chertoff, Libby and Bush must all face trial as war criminals after their term of office comes to an end. Only another five months!
Friday, August 29, 2008
Sen. John McCain's choice of Sarah Palin as his vice president running mate is bringing out seamy details about Palin's bizarre and probably unethical role as Alaska governor in trying to have her brother-in-law fired as a state trooper.
The Washington Post reports today:
"The July firing of Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan by Gov. Sarah Palin, who was announced as John McCain's running mate on Friday, has unearthed a stream of soap-opera-like details about Palin, her husband, her family and top state appointees. The controversy has also cut against Palin's reputation for holding an ethical line and standing up to colleagues in the Republican Party over matters of principle.
"Monegan, 57, a respected former chief of the Anchorage Police Department, said in an interview with The Washington Post's James V. Grimaldi on Friday that the governor repeatedly brought up the topic of her ex-brother-in-law, Michael Wooten, after Monegan became the state's commissioner of public safety in September 2006. Palin's husband, Todd, met with Monegan and presented a dossier of information about Wooten, who was going through a bitter custody battle with Palin's sister, Molly. Monegan also said Sarah Palin sent him e-mails on the subject, but Monegan declined to disclose them, saying he planned to give them to a legislative investigator looking into the matter."
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Reports from Afghanistan say that in a four-day gun battle, the U.S. has killed more than 100 "militants." Jason Staziuso of the AP writes in today's web site of The Washington Post:
"The large death toll comes about one week after the U.S. said it killed 25 militants and five civilians during an operation in the Shindand district of Herat province. Afghan officials, however, say between 76 and 90 Afghan civilians were killed in that operation last Friday. The U.S. is investigating and plans to make its findings public."
The whole scene in Afghanistan is horrific. The United States should not be going around the country engaged in fire fights with local Afghan "militants" and killing civilians by mistake. This is not how I want the U.S. to pursue foreign policy. I call upon the U.S. military and Defense Secretary Gates to end this bloody useless war and pull all American soldiers out of Afghanistan.
There is no need for the U.S. in the year 2008 to have any "enemies." No other country or people should be on an "American enemies list." That includes Iran, Afghanistan, Russia, Venezuela or whomever.
Nothing is ever solved by killing an "enemy." Just like the U.S. has done nothing of benefit when it kills insurgents or militants. If you were an Afghani farmer, would you like American soldiers busting into your house or patrolling your village? Or how would you feel about U.S. war planes buzzing overhead and dropping bombs on your house and home? Don't say that you would not be pissed off enough to start making home made bombs or to take up arms against the foreign invaders.
The war in Afghanistan is and was a catastrophic mistake, as bad as the war in Iraq. We must end it now.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
I get the impression that the West's condemnation of Russia for recognizing the independence of South Ossetia and Abhkazia has more to do with deep seated fears that almost any country in the West could be subject to independence movements by their own minorities wanting to break away. Here Russia has signaled that it will recognize such movements, at least in other countries, maybe not in its own. All the huffing and puffing of Bush, Cheney and Rice seems totally unrelated to spreading "democracy," one of Bush's favorite words.
If Bush wanted to pursue democracy, instead of telling Russia it had to recognize Georgia's "territorial sovereignty," Bush would be pressing both Putin and Saakashvili to sponsor a referendum in both Abhkazia and South Ossetia for the purpose of ascertaining the will of the people. That would be true democracy in action. But Bush and his cronies send in war ships carrying "relief" cargo to Georgia's ports, obviously intending to show Russia that Bush is not afraid to use military force.
There are still some five months left in Bush's term, so anything can happen between now and then. But don't underestimate the Bush danger. Bush could stumble into a serious shooting confrontation with Russia just as he and the other European leaders who support him stumbled into the Georgia mess by failing to understand the repercussions of Russia's concern about the West recognizing the independence of Kosovo a few months ago. Bush also bears responsibility for Georgia's initiation of the conflict by telling that hot head Saakashvili that the U.S. would back him up vis-a-vis Russia, the implication being with war planes and tanks.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Why is Bush ratcheting up the tension with Putin, Medvedev and Russia over Russia's recognition of Independence for South Ossetia and Abhkazia?
Someone please tell me the difference between recognizing sovereignty for South Ossetia and recognizing sovereignty for Kosovo. In both cases, the inhabitants have an entirely different culture from the "mother country." The Kosovans are Muslim whereas Serbia is mostly slavic and Orthodox. People in South Ossetia are not Georgian and speak an entirely different language.
So how can Bush and Rice say it is illegal for Russia to recognize South Ossetia when the United States early on this year recognized the independence of Kosovo from Serbia? Rice says Russia's actions violate U.N. resolutions but she never quotes chapter and verse or gives any cites. And anyway, if recognition of South Ossetia is against international law, certainly the Kosovo recognition also has to be. Yet neither Bush nor Rice nor Cheney protested on behalf of Serbia. Why are they protesting now on behalf of Georgia and that hot head Saakashvili?
Here's what Saakashvili did to start this whole mess. On August 7th, he ordered the Georgian army, armed with the latest in American produced lethal missiles to fire upon civilians in South Ossetia's capital Tskhinvali. Instead of working through diplomacy to see if the Ossetians would consent to holding a referendum to see what they preferred in terms of sovereignty, Saakashvili decided to attack the Ossetians and kill them unless they agreed to be part of Georgia. It would be like the U.S. federal government firing missiles against the civilian population of Texas in the event of some federal-state disagreement. Civilized nations don't do this.
Monday, August 25, 2008
The BBC Radio today reports on a story from Afghanistan that government ministers have condemned the killing by U.S. air strikes of more than 90 civilians of a small town in Herat Province in the western part of the country. Many of the 90 killed were children.
I have been saying this for a long time that the U.S. should pull all fighter aircraft out of Afghanistan and stop all air strikes. This is not the first time that U.S. air planes have killed Afghani civilians, and if the U.S. persists in this fooling military action, many more civilians will die.
For each civilian death caused by bombs dropped from airplanes screaming over head in the middle of the night, imagine how many enemies of America are created. Perhaps ten for one, no, even one hundred to one.
Airplanes should be for peaceful purposes only, not to shoot missiles or to drop bombs on a helpless population.
Stop the wanton and indiscriminate killing of Afghani civilians, ground all U.S. military aircraft that carry guns, missiles or bombs.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Now that Joe Biden is selected as VP candidate for the Democrats, I call upon Barack to give us a more realistic policy towards Russia, Georgia and South Ossetia. As Ellen Barry reports in today's Sunday The New York Times, the languages of the Caucasus are varied and unrelated. Why is this important? Because it shows that Georgia cannot validly claim that South Ossetia "belongs" to it culturally or linguistically.
The Ossetians apparently prefer to have nothing to do with Georgians. Their languages and their cultures and their histories are totally different.
So instead of supporting that hot head Georgian Saakashvili in his military quest to re-take South Ossetia, Barack should have a more nuanced approach. First condemn Saakashvili for starting this silly bloody conflict. Second, personally confer with Putin and Medvedev on holding a referendum for the people in South Ossetia and also in Abhkazia to decide if they want independence or if they want to associate with Georgia, and get firm commitments that both Georgia and Russia will abide by the results.
To blindly support Saakashvili and Georgia in their quest to subjugate South Ossetia and Abhkazia is simplistic and undemocratic. The peoples of those regions should have the determining voice. Don't go along with Bush and the culturally insensitive Republicans who support Saakashvili because he speaks good English and is thought to pro-American.
Friday, August 22, 2008
The BBC reports that the mayor of a small town in Herat Province in western Afghanistan says that more than 90 civilians were killed in U.S. raids on his town today. The U.S. military denies that its forces killed any civilians.
This is depressingly similar to all those other cases where the U.S. sends in war planes to attack "insurgents" and they wound up killing women, children and ordinary civilians.
That's why this dirty war in Afghanistan must come to a stop. First, stop using war planes to bomb Afghan towns and villages. Withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan. They are fated to lose just like every other invading and occupying foreign army in the whole history of Afghanistan. Make the war into a police action. Allow Afghanis to fix and settle their own "government" and social customs, however distasteful they are to the West.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Valery Gergiev, the noted classical music conductor, is a native of South Ossetia, and today, according to BBC Radio News, he conducted a concert in memoriam for all of the Ossetians killed in the Georgian attack on Tskhinvali, the capital city of South Ossetia.
Gergiev also spoke to the BBC and said if it were not for the Russian army coming to the rescue, hundreds if not thousands more Ossetians would have been killed by Georgian missiles and bombs.
Steve Erlanger reports in today's The New York Times on the contrast between the official U.S. position which makes Russia into the perpetrator and Georgia into the victim and the more nuanced European view that sees this whole conflict the result of an impetuous and not too smart Georgian president Saakashvili.
"The United States — stung by the Russian move against a Washington protégé, Georgia’s president, Mikheil Saakashvili— has talked in cold war terms, with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice comparing the Russian move to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. But many European leaders believe that Mr. Saakashvili acted rashly when he sent his troops to take over the autonomous ethnic enclave of South Ossetia, bringing down much of the destruction upon his own head.
"“On one side you have a bear, and on the other, a little ‘roquet,’ ” said one senior French official, using the French word for a yapping little dog. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the Georgian crisis publicly, allowed that Mr. Saakashvili may have fallen into a carefully prepared Russian trap. “But when you’re a chief of state, you have to know about the reality of forces,” he said. “This was an incredible misjudgment by Saakashvili.”"
And it was a disastrous attack against South Ossetia that brought the Russian army to the rescue. What else would anyone expect when South Ossetia was populated with so many Russians? Would Bush or Cheney or Rice do any different if Americans in Tijuana were being bombed and shelled by Mexico which wanted to re-exert control over a largely American colony there?
Bush's harsh reaction to Moscow is just another example of the United States trying to bully the rest of the world in order to protect a Bush crony and protege by the name of Saakashvili.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
What a gross mistake for the United States to sign a missile defense pact with Poland today. Everyone knows (wink, wink) that any American missiles placed in Poland target Russia. The American technology might be rudimentary today but tomorrow the missiles probably will be far more accurate and lethal. What do Bush, Cheney and Rice think they are accomplishing? Do they think that Russia will pull its troops out of Georgia as a result? They are tragically mistaken. Russia sees Georgia and its president Mikheil Saakashvili as aggressor and war criminal respectively.
Consider Mikhail Gorbachev's op-ed in today's The New York Times. Writes Gorbachev:
"THE acute phase of the crisis provoked by the Georgian forces’ assault on Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, is now behind us. But how can one erase from memory the horrifying scenes of the nighttime rocket attack on a peaceful town, the razing of entire city blocks, the deaths of people taking cover in basements, the destruction of ancient monuments and ancestral graves?
"Russia did not want this crisis. The Russian leadership is in a strong enough position domestically; it did not need a little victorious war. Russia was dragged into the fray by the recklessness of the Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili. He would not have dared to attack without outside support. Once he did, Russia could not afford inaction. "
In truth it was Saakashvili who ordered Georgian troops to shell and shoot missiles at civilian enclaves in South Ossetia. Because many Ossetians consider themselves Russians and not Georgians, Russia intervened and sent in its troops. What would the U.S. expect Russia to do? Stand by and do nothing while Russians were being killed by Georgian missiles? Is this what the U.S. under Bush would do if Americans in Mexico were being shot at and bombed by the Mexican army?
Continues Mr. Gorbachev:
"Mr. Saakashvili had been lavished with praise for being a staunch American ally and a real democrat — and for helping out in Iraq. Now America’s friend has wrought disorder, and all of us — the Europeans and, most important, the region’s innocent civilians — must pick up the pieces.
"Those who rush to judgment on what’s happening in the Caucasus, or those who seek influence there, should first have at least some idea of this region’s complexities. The Ossetians live both in Georgia and in Russia. The region is a patchwork of ethnic groups living in close proximity.
"Therefore, all talk of “this is our land,” “we are liberating our land,” is meaningless. We must think about the people who live on the land.
"The problems of the Caucasus region cannot be solved by force. That has been tried more than once in the past two decades, and it has always boomeranged."
Saakashvili and Georgia tried to settle loyalties by brute military force. As Gorbachev says, nothing will be settled militarily in the Caucasus.
It is pathetic to hear George Bush today blithely and ignorantly state that South Ossetia and Abkhazia "belong" to Georgia and are part of Georgia's sovereignty. Howe about telling that to the people who live there and see what they say?
And how come Bush, Cheney and Rice did not suggest to that rash and reckless Saakashvili that he try holding a plebiscite or referendum instead of raining down fiery missiles on Ossetian civilians? Oh no, that would have been too "democratic," although I thought that word was Bush's mantra.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Ten French soldiers lost their lives in Afghanistan yesterday. Yet the French Foreign Minister Bernard Kourchner says today that France is committed to send and keep its troops to fight there.
There must be a better way. After all, what is the purpose of having NATO troops in Afghanistan?
- to capture Osama bin Laden? Not very likely. Bin Laden is probably safely ensconced in the tribal territories in northwest Pakistan.
- to defeat and kill the Taliban? Again, not much chance of this. The Taliban consists of local and mostly uneducated Afghanis who believe in fundamentalist Islam and who also resent the presence of foreign soldiers in their county. No foreign army will ever defeat the movement.
- to protect the rights of women? Laudable, but it will never happen in Afghanistan, an Islamic country that does not believe in rights except for men.
- to prop up Karzai? If Karzai has not by this time secured the loyalty of Afghanis, nothing will protect him, not George Bush himself with thousands of Army Rangers.
So what should be done vis-a-vis Afghanistan?
- withdraw all foreign troops.
- start negotiations with leaders of the Taliban and allow them representation in the Afghani government.
- make the search for bin Laden and other members of Al Qaeda a police operation. Dropping bombs on villagers and sending in the army with tanks has never convinced the locals that they are wrong and the army is right.
I see that almost all of the U.S. foreign policy establishment including the main street media favors censuring Russia and Vladimir Putin for crossing over into Georgia and sticking around to destroy Georgia's military arsenals.
How come these Bushies don't outright condemn Georgia for starting a war against civilians in South Ossetia the night of August 7th. It was not Russia which attacked first, precipitating the conflict. It was Georgia which shot missiles and that hot head Saakashvili who decided that if the citizens of South Ossetia refused to accept Georgia's sovereignty, he would attack them with guns and tanks.
Imagine if the citizens of Texas wished to belong to Mexico instead of to the United States. At which point, George Bush orders the army and air force to bomb Dalles, Austin and other Texas centers of population. This is what Saakashvili, the darling of the Republican social circuit in D.C., has done with South Ossetia.
If Georgia and Saakashvili are such strong examples of democracy in action, why didn't they propose a referendum for the Ossetian citizens to see what they wanted. Then if they voted to belong to Russia, let them go. But don't bomb them!
Bush, Cheney and Rice are quick to condemn Russia for sending in troops and tanks to defend the Russian-leaning occupants of South Ossetia. Yet they did not condemn Israel when Israel and Olmert attacked Lebanon with cluster bombs and tanks two years ago in the July War of 2006. In fact, they opposed a cease fire for a full 30 days to allow Israel to destroy much of Lebanon's infrastructure.
So stop the wholesale mindless condemnation of Russia in this conflict.
Monday, August 18, 2008
It's about time that Gen. Pervez Musharraf resigned as president of Pakistan. After firing justices of the Pakistani supreme court and having his henchmen go out and beat up protesting lawyers, Musharraf's time has long since passed. But the Musharraf treatment of lawyers and judges says a lot about the foreign policy of the United States under Bush, Cheney and Rice.
The U.S. urged Musharraf not to re-instate the judges after they refused to go along with his unconstitutional scheme to be both president and head of the army. Bush would rather have Musharraf as head of Pakistan than respect the rule of law and the independence of the courts. So much for Bush the guardian of democracy.
Contrast the situation in Pakistan with that of Georgia. Bush protests and howls that Russia is illegally attacking and occupying Georgia after Russia steps in to defend its citizens in South Ossetia from shelling by the U.S. trained and supported Georgian army. For Bush, it is a case fof a large imperium, Russia, having its way with a small democracy, Georgia. Georgia's president, Saakashvili, is a Bush protege having being wined and dined in Washington by all the neo-cons after saying all the right things about Bush and Cheney. But at heart he is a small dictator who tried to suppress dissent and opposition by creating a more powerful executive in Georgia, a la Bush and Cheney.
Bush supports Saakashvili because Georgia is a "democracy," whereas he supported Musharraf in his undemocratic quest to get rid of all those justices who opined that Musharraf was violating the Pakistani law and constitution.
Bush is not interested in "democracy." All he wants are leaders of other countries who pay tribute to him and tell him how great a leader he is. Oh, and if their countries send troops to the "Coalition of the Willing" for the immoral war in Iraq, Bush will forever support them.
Friday, August 15, 2008
UBER-BULLY GEORGE BUSH CALLS RUSSIA "BULLY" FOR REACTING TO ATTACK BY GEORGIA ON CIVILIANS IN SOUTH OSSETIA
Of all people to call Vladimir Putin and Russia "bullies" for entering Georgia to protect Russians in South Ossetia, George W. Bush, the super-bully, actually used those words, pompously stating that that's not the way to operate foreign policy in the 21st Century.
Does the uber-bully Bush realize what a hypocrite he is? Do Americans have any idea of how people in other countries view George Bush and the United States? As the bully par excellence. Why? Just look at Iraq and what Bush has done there. Consider his treatment of Iran. Then move to North Korea, then to Venezuela, then to Bolivia, then to Cuba.
The more Bush talks, threatens, cajoles and warns on Georgia, the more ridiculous and transparently hypocritical he becomes.
Olga Ivanova writes in today's The Washington Post how the American media seem to take Georgia's side in its conflict with Russia. I totally agree. My impression from reading The New York Times and The Washington Post is that reporters omit mentioning that this whole bloody conflict was started by Georgia under president Mikheil Saakashvili when he ordered Georgian army to shell civilians, mostly Russians, in South Ossetia.
The TV news reports are even more one-sided. ABC, CBS and NBC all seem to make this out to be a pure case of Russian aggression against democracy in a small defenseless nation. Has Charles Gibson ever included the fact that Georgia started the war by attacking civilians and killing up to 2,000?
"American newspapers have run story after story about how "evil" Russia invaded a sovereign neighboring state. Many accounts made it seem as though the conflict was started by an aggressive Russia invading the Georgian territory of South Ossetia. Some said that South Ossetia's capital, Tskhinvali, was destroyed by the Russian army. Little attention was paid to the chronology of events, the facts underlying the conflict.
"Last week, Georgia's president invaded South Ossetia during the night, much as Adolf Hitler invaded Russia in 1941. Within hours, Georgian troops destroyed Tskhinvali, a city of 100,000, and they killed more than 2,000 civilians. Almost all of the people who died that night were Russian citizens. They chose to become citizens of Russia years ago, when Georgia refused to recognize South Ossetia as a non-Georgian territory.
"The truth is that, in this case, Russian aggression actually made some sense. Russia defended its citizens."
But Ivanova notes as I have above that hardly any stories in the American press or TV mention that Russia acted to protect its citizens from the missiles raining down on civilians in South Ossetia. Bush portrays Saakashvili and Georgia as the bastion of democratic government in eastern Europe, but this can hardly be true, given their attitude to people in Ossetia who would rather be Russian than Georgian. Instead of bombing and shooting them, has Saakashvili together with his nationalistic Georgians ever thought of allowing the Ossetians to vote in a free referendum on which country they wish to join?
"Yet American newspapers published stories that omitted mention of the Georgian invasion. And American media as a whole have been disturbingly pro-Georgian. The lead photograph on the front page of Sunday's Post showed two men -- one dead, the other crying -- amid ruins in Gori, Georgia. Many other images could have been used. Monday's Wall Street Journal, for example, contained several stories about the conflict and even an op-ed by Saakashvili. Where was the Russian response?"
Thursday, August 14, 2008
This whole episode with Russia and Georgia throws a bright light upon the incredibly messed up and hypocritical Bush foreign policy.
Bush warns Putin not to think of "regime change," but that is exactly what Bush/Cheney/Rice/Rumsfeld did in Iraq. Bush and Cheney say Russia's "aggression" will not go unanswered, but this is the very same aspiration shared by the Islamic street about the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. Bush tells Russia to pull out of Georgia and South Ossetia, but says U.S. troops will stay indefinitely in Iraq.
Bush warns Putin not to overthrow a democratically elected government in Tbilisi but that's what Bush wants to do in Venezuela with Hugo Chavez and in Boliva with Evo Morales and in Ecuador with Rafael Correa.
Bush says that Russia must respect the territorial sovereignty of Georgia with regard to the enclaves and mini-states of South Ossetia and Abkhazia where the majority are Russians or want to be Russian. But just a few months ago, Bush and Cheney wholeheartedly supported the independence of Kosovo, torn from the territorial sovereignty of Serbia which regarded Kosovo as "holy ground."
So in view of all these oppositional positions on the part of Bush & Co., where is the consistency and rationality of the Bush foreign policy? The answer is, there is none. These guys are dangerous and they have five more months in office.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
This whole fiasco of Bush foreign policy with regard to Russia and Georgia reemphasizes how inept and incompetent the Bush people are, and I mean Bush himself, Dick Cheney and Condoleeza Rice.
Having encouraged Georgian president Mikheil Saskhasvili sub rosa to oppose Russia in South Ossetia, the Americans have placed themselves face to face against Vladimir Putin and his new president Medvedev.
That Russia and the U.S. are on different sides of this Georgia conflict reduces the possibility of Bush mounting an attack against Iran, but opens the very real possibility that Bush and Cheney, being shown the losers in their bankrupt policy towards Saakashvili, will lash out and get themselves and the U.S. into a much more serious military confrontation with Putin and Russia.
Bush and Cheney have less than six months left, but these guys are capable of all sorts of mayhem and mischief. The questions must be, what would they not do to rescue their tattered legacy in foreign affairs? Starting another world war is not out of the question for those guys.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Colombian president Alvaro Uribe is angling for a third term even though the Colombian constitution limits a person to only two.
Uribe is the Bush protege who believes the way to deal with the FARC is to kill them. If it were not for Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, no hostages would be released, even Ingrid Betancourt who was freed under a ruse by Colombian military posing as Red Cross workers. Chavez was the one who started negotiating with FARC and he succeeded in freeing Clara Rojas, Betancourt's assistant and others.
Uribe is just a right-wing dictator posing as a believer in democracy. He knows how to push all of Bush's buttons to get Bush to ante millions for Colombian's army.
Colombians should say no to a third Uribe term. No one is indispensable in politics.
Monday, August 11, 2008
Dan Eggen, Michael Abramowitz and Colum Lynch report today in The Washington Post that George Bush accuses Russia of brutal escalation in sending in its forces into South Ossetia to beat back the Georgians.
Report Eggen, Abramowitz and Lynch on Bush's statement:
""I am deeply concerned by reports that Russian troops have moved beyond the zone of conflict," Bush said. "It now appears that an effort may be underway to depose Georgia's duly elected government.""
I posted the following comments on the WashPo website in response to the article:
Bush should just shut up about Russia's intervention in So. Ossetia. He's the guy who sent 140,000 U.S. troops into another sovereign nation, Iraq, causing civilians deaths in the hundreds of thousands.
Furthermore, it is Russia that has the right on its side. Georgia started this bloody episode by shelling and firing missiles into Tskhavili, the capital of So. Ossetia, killing mostly civilians in their homes.If Georgia and its president Saakhasvili are so hot to get back So. Ossetia, then what did they engage in targeting civilians, a clear war crime on the level with Karadzic and Mladic. Did anyone in Georgia think instead of holding a referendum for the Ossetians, to see what they would like to do, i.e., belong to Russia or to Georgia.So in view of the harsh and criminal action of Georgia in targeting civilians with bombs and missiles, how can Bush take Georgia's side and condemn Russia for rushing in and trying to protect Russian civilians.
This whole Bush foreign policy is unreasonable and based on personal likings or dislikings. Can't he just shut up?
BUSH/CHENEY THREATEN RUSSIA FOR REACTING AGAINST GEORGIAN ASSAULT ON CIVILIAN POPULATION IN SOUTH OSSETIA
How does the Bush regime make foreign policy? Take Georgia. It supports Bush's war in Iraq by sending 2,000 soldiers to Iraq. It names a principal thoroughfare in Tbilisi after George W. Bush. Georgian president Saakhasvili fawns all over Bush during a Bush visit last year.
The end result: Bush and Cheney are outraged when Russia sends tanks and troops into South Ossetia to protect civilians, mostly Russians, from a Georgian assault.
Does it matter to Bush or Cheney that Saakhasvili ordered the Georgian army and air force to shell homes and apartment buildings, or that the Georgian assault was directly and intentionally against the Ossetian population? Not in the least. Last night Cheney placed a call to Saakhasvili telling him America stands behind him and threatening Russia with reprisals for trying to protect its own citizens against the indiscriminate Georgian bombing and shelling.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
Instead of repeating the Bush line that Russia is to blame for the recent outbreak of fighting between Russia and Georgia, I want to see Barack condemn Georgian president Saakhasvili for starting this whole mess by ordering Georgian tanks and war planes to shell and bomb civilians in South Ossetia.
Saakhasvili's initiation of this bloody conflict rates him on a par with Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. Saakhasvili turns out to be another war criminal.
The people of South Ossetia don't want to belong to Georgia which insists on its "sovereignty" over them. Instead of Georgia killing them to force them to belong, how about a referendum?
This is what Barack should say. Not that Russia is to blame, or that Georgia is pursuing "democracy," so the Georgians must be right.
Forget about U.S. "interests" in the area. Do what is right for the people in South Ossetia being killed and bombed by the Georgians. Protect them from these crazy Georgian nationalists. If they want to secede and they vote and win, let them.
Saturday, August 9, 2008
An editorial in today's The Washington Post is about the outbreak of hostilities between Georgia and South Ossetia. The WashPo's editors seem to blame Russia for starting this bloody conflict. But wait. Anyone who has been watching BBC News knows that Georgia started the war by shelling civilians in South Ossetia and its principal city, Tskhavili.
And why did Georgia, led by its "democratic" president Mikheil Saakashvili, shell innocent civilians? Because many residents in South Ossetia want to belong to Russia, not Georgia. So Saakhashvili starts a war because he does not want South Ossetia to have its way and attach itself to Russia. Instead of shelling and bombing, Mr. Saakhasvili, how about calling for a referendum and then abiding by the vote of the people?
No wonder the Russians intervened in the conflict. Georgia was bombing and shelling civilians, a true war crime, if we need yet another example. Saakhashvili should be brought before the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
And what about the biased and/or incomplete editorial in the WashPo? These guys are just following the Bush line which takes Georgia's side to counter what some think is inordinate Russian influence in South Ossetia.
While John McCain continues to ridicule Barack Obama as being elitist and snobbish, Barack is vacationing for nine days in Hawaii.
Now I realize conducting a presidential campaign must be extremely taxing, but Barack Obama should not be in Hawaii this whole week. He should be back in the continental U.S. attacking McCain instead of allowing himself to be attacked.
Where were Obama's advisors when he told them that he would take a nine-day vacation in Hawaii? One of them should have told Obama, this is a very bad idea.
We have already lost one election because John Kerry allowed Bush to portray him as a wimp, a girly man, even a faggot. I don't want to lose another.
Please, Barack, don't just take the slurs from McCain, fight back.
Friday, August 8, 2008
How can Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili send in the Georgian army to shell South Ossetia's civilian population? Just because he believes South Ossetia belongs to Georgia's territorial control? This seems like another example of a war crime. From the reports on the BBC and from The Washington Post, Georgian army units have cut off all power and water to South Ossetia's main city of Tskhinvali.
Peter Finn reports in The Washington Post:
"Most residents of South Ossetia, which has a population of about 70,000, hold Russian passports. And Georgia has long claimed that Russian peacekeepers back separatists in both South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
"There were reports from Tskhinvali that civilians were huddling in cellars to shelter from the shelling. Boris Chochiyev, a minister in the South Ossetian government, which is not recognized internationally, said that shells caused extensive damage in the center of Tskhinvali. Electricity was out in much of the city and humanitarian organizations said hospitals were struggling to cope with the wounded."
Yes, Georgia claims that South Ossetia is part of Georgia and subject to Georgia's sovereignty, but that is no excuse for shelling a city and inflicting punishment upon the civilian population, many of whom hold Russian citizenship.
Reports the BBC:
"Fleeing resident Lyudmila Ostayeva, 50, told AP news agency: "I saw bodies lying on the streets, around ruined buildings, in cars. It's impossible to count them now. There is hardly a single building left undamaged."
"International Red Cross spokeswoman Anna Nelson said it had received reports that hospitals in Tskhinvali were having trouble coping with the influx of casualties and ambulances were having trouble reaching the injured. "
It is not Russia which started this unnecessary and brutal conflict. It is Georgia and president Saakashvili who ordered the attack with heavy artillery, rockets and warplanes. We all know that nothing can be solved with rockets and tanks. Witness George Bush's failed foreign policy in Iraq. Georgian president Saakashvili is turning into another George Bush.
It is about time that the Pakistani elected government holds Gen. Pervez Musharraf to account for his violation of the Pakistani constitution. When Musharraf saw that the Supreme Court would not approve his bid to be both president and head of the army, he fired the justices and locked them up. He then sent out his police to beat up and arrest the lawyers who protested the gross violation of the rule of law.
And what position did the Bush administration take on this sorry affair? As you might guess, it told Musharraf to stand firm, not to re-instate the justices he illegally fired, and not to concede anything. Just what we would expect from the lawless regime in Washington.
Bush goes to the Olympics pretending to be the defender of the rule of law and rights for all. But we all know he is the worst offender. His cynical position on Pakistan and Musharraf just re-enforces his sorry record on civil rights and good government.
The sooner Musharraf is impeached and removed from office, the better will be democracy in Pakistan.
Thursday, August 7, 2008
I would like to see George W. Bush just shut up, to quote Keith Olbermann, when it comes to his telling and lecturing other countries and regimes how to manage their own internal affairs.
Last night, TV reports showed Bush lecturing the Chinese on their society, wishing that the Chinese would respect such things as freedom of speech and religion. This would be well and good if Bush had clean hands. But he does not. He is after all the person responsible for creating Guantanamo, military tribunals, use of harsh interrogation methods (a euphemism for waterboarding and torture), Abu Ghraib, rendition of suspects to other totalitarian regimes for extreme punishments, flouting of valid laws passed by Congress, and an overall trashing of individual constitutional rights.
Here is the report of Bush's speech in The Washington Post as reported by Debbi Wilgoren and Michael Abramowitz.
The new book by Ron Suskind, The Way of the World, makes the sensational charge that the White House instructed the CIA to create a bogus letter from the former head of Saddam's Intelligence Agency that Saddam had ties with Mohamed Atta.
The White House has issued non-denial denials, calling the assertion "ridiculous" but not saying that it is false. So has George Tenet, formerly head of the CIA, that "to the best of [his] knowledge," he received no such instructions.
But where are the reports we should expect about this in the public media? Where are the stories in The New York Times or on CBS? Investigative reporters should be swarming all over this story, but so far, there has been relative silence.
Wednesday, August 6, 2008
Today, August 6th, is the 63rd anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima that killed over 100,000 people.
I find the argument of those American militarists ludicrous and illogical who argue that dropping nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was justified becaause it brought the war to an early close and, by doing so, saved thousands of lives of U.S. soldiers.
Has anyone ever told these guys that the laws of war absolutely prevent a combatant from targeting civilians? The people whom the American nuclear devices incinerated were ordinary civilians, albeit Japanese, residents of the city of Hiroshima, men, women, children. There was no justification for the U.S. to drop a nuclear bomb on them . The only reason why Harry S. Truman was not indicted as an out-and-out war criminal for ordering the bombing and charged with crimes against humanity was that the U.S. was victorious.
Consider the Serbians Ratko Mladic and Radovan Karadcic. They have been indicted for crimes against humanity on the principal charge of killing and murdering over 3,000 men and boys at Srebenica.
Contrast Truman to these thugs. They killed a few thousand by shooting. Truman killed over 100,000 by incinerating, yet he got away free and clear.
The U.S. has a lot to answer for with regard to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, not to mention Dresden and Hamburg. This is a stain that will not easily disappear.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
The State of Texas is preparing to execute Jose Medellin, a Mexican national, within this very hour. In spite of protests and requests to stop the execution by Banki Moon and the International Court of Justice, Texas seems bull-headed enough to go through with this unfortunate sentence.
Medellin as a Mexican citizen should have been advised of his rights to seek the aid of the Mexican consulate in Texas. He was not informed and thus missed an opportunity to craft a defense.
There is no need for any state to take the life of a criminal, no matter how heinous the crime is thought to be. Especially in this case where the United States was a signatory to the agreement to put nationals of other nations in touch with their embassy and consulate personnel.
Texas still has the chance to escape from showing itself to the world as disrespectful to agreed international law. Texas - stop the execution now.
Dan Froomkin has a fascinating post in his blog in The Washington Post today about Ron Suskind's new book, The Way of the World, in which Suskind recounts that the White House ordered the CIA in 2003 to make up a phony letter saying that there was a definite connection between 9/11 mastermind Mohammad Atta and Saddam Hussein.
"Investigative reporter Ron Suskind's new book charges that the White House, seeking to justify its invasion of Iraq, ordered the CIA in late 2003 to forge evidence of a link between Iraq and al Qaeda.
"Suskind, a Pulitzer-winning reporter and relentless chronicler of this administration's secrets, depicts a White House with a simpleminded bully in the Oval Office taking direction from a paranoid vice president -- and caps off his latest expose with what he acknowledges sounds a lot like an impeachable offense."
Froomkin always reports the latest on the machinations of Bush, Cheney and the rest of the White House gang, but his post today introduces Suskind's startling assertions that Bush and Cheney just made things up so that the "evidence was made to fit around the policy," as the British Foreign Secretary reported to Tony Blair in early 2003.
George Bush is on another trip, this time to South Korea, Thailand and China. As usual he is mixing business with pleasure, all the better to charge the expenses to the U.S. taxpayer.
Apparently he is taking a large family contingent with him on Air Force One. The Bushes know how to milk the Treasury for their own personal gain. They all want to see the Olympics in Beijing.
Anyone want to guess how many Bush family members are on this trip?
Sunday, August 3, 2008
Remember when Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sent George W. Bush a personal letter talking about religion and religious faith as well as world problems? Bush said he would not even bother to read the letter, so much did he despise Ahmadinejad and the Iranian government.
What if Bush had read the letter and responded in kind? Perhaps the world would not today be threatened with the poison atmosphere that exists today in Washington towards Ahmadinejad and Iran. Perhaps if the U.S. government had some honest communication, it would not now be threatening Iran with that reckless and dangerous "all options are on the table" war mongering.
The BBC reports today that Ahmadinejad says he and the Iranian government are open to talks and negotiations regarding Iran's development of nuclear power. Bush/Cheney/Rice should accept Ahmadinejad at his word and begin diplomatic negotiations. Rather than claiming that Bush & Co. are the good guys and Ahmadinejad and the Iranians are the bad guys, the U.S. should drop the doomsday good-versus-evil silliness and begin face-to-face talks with the Iranians.
Iran's history shows the strength of its civilization and the ability of its people. The U.S. should try to understand the Iranians for a change instead of demonizing them as the "enemy."
Friday, August 1, 2008
Any guess on why the stock market suffered a broad decline today? There was a report early on this morning that Israel said that Iran was making great progress in developing a nuclear weapon and that would be "unacceptable." Hearing that the stock market tanked.
Here's the story as reported by Mark Drajem and Janine Zacharia for Bloomberg:
"Iran is driving toward a ``major breakthrough'' in its nuclear development effort that poses an ``unacceptable'' danger, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz told a Washington audience today.
"Iran with a nuclear weapon is ``an existential threat,'' Mofaz said at a forum on Iran at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. ``We have to make sure we are prepared for every option. All the options are on the table.'' "
First of all, there is no credible evidence that Iran is developing nuclear weapons or wants to develop them. To the contrary, Iran's supreme ayatollah has denied more than once that Iran wants nuclear weapons. And why would it want to have them? Lobbing a nuclear bomb at Israel would cause a catastrophic world war and Iran would be devastated. Remember what Hillary Clinton said about her reaction to such an event. It was obscene, that Iran would be annihilated.
Second. Iran has the right, as does every other signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) to develop nuclear power for peaceful purposes. India, not a signatory, is being pressed by Bush and the United States, to accept highly sophisticated nuclear technology. But the Bush people are castigating Iran for doing what it is permitted under the NPT.
According to Faiz Shakir of Thinkprogress.org, Seymour Hersh recently described a meeting in Dick Cheney's office not long ago where participants discussed drawing Iran into a fight, by dressing Navy Seals as if Iranian sailors and have them stage a mock attack on a U.S. warship.
"During the journalism conference event, I asked Hersh specifically about this meeting and if he could elaborate on what occurred. Hersh explained that, during the meeting in Cheney’s office, an idea was considered to dress up Navy Seals as Iranians, put them on fake Iranian speedboats, and shoot at them. This idea, intended to provoke an Iran war, was ultimately rejected . . ."
The whole idea of luring Iran into a fight shows the desperation of the Bush people as well as the anti-Iranian war mongers in the Israeli government led by Ehud Olmert.
If the stock market fell today on mere reports of Israeli threats, what would it do if there were an actual attack either by the U.S. or Israel?
But the stock market is the least consequential of all possible effects. There would be enmity between Islam and the West for the next 500 years. The whole Middle East would remain in turmoil and conflagration. If you think that the level of "terrorism" is excessive today, it would be raised to the tenth power, maybe even to the hundredth. Bush's predilection for "endless war" would certainly become reality. And the whole world would suffer the consequences because of the war mongering of Cheney, Bush and Olmert.